The pianist in the shopping center – part 1

Paulo Coelho

I am strolling casually through a shopping center in the company of a violinist friend. Ursula, born in Hungary, is today a top musician in two international philharmonic orchestras. All of a sudden she grabs my arm:

“Listen!”

I listen. I hear voices, adult voices, children shouting, noises of televisions turned on in electrical-appliance shops, high heels clip-clopping on the tiled floor, and that well-known music that is omnipresent in shopping centers the world over.

“So, isn’t it marvelous?”

I answer that I hear nothing marvelous or special.

“The piano!” she says, throwing me a look of disappointment. “The pianist is marvelous!”

“It must be a recording.”

“Don’t talk nonsense.”

Listening more carefully, it becomes obvious that the music is live. Now a Chopin sonata is being played, and now that I can concentrate, the notes seem to conceal all the noise surrounding us. We stroll through the corridors jammed with people, shops, reduced prices, things that they claim everyone has – except you and me. We reach the food plaza: people eating, chatting, arguing, reading newspapers, and one of those special attractions that all shopping centers try to offer their customers.

In this case, a piano and a pianist.

He plays two more sonatas by Chopin, and then Schubert, Mozart. He must be about 30; a notice hanging at the side of the small stage explains that he is a famous musician from Georgia, one of the former Soviet Republics. He must have been looking for work, doors were closed, he became desperate, resigned himself and now he is here.

But I am not sure that he is even here: his eyes look at the magic world this music was composed, his hands share with everyone the love, the soul, the enthusiasm, the best of himself, his years of study, concentration and discipline.

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Comments

  1. Irina Black says:

    Winged Beings.Those,who can follow DREAM.

  2. orly says:

    once we learn to open our eyes and we learn to listen- we can really see or hear so much,,,, and sometimes people just dont open themselves enough to reall absorb and feel their around atmosfere,
    beutiful story… thanks
    orly

  3. andrea h. says:

    EU JA LI ESSA HISTORIA EM UM DOS SEUS LIVROS,SÓ NAO ME LEMBRO QUAL.E GOSTEI MUITO ME EMOCIONOU E AINDA ME EMOCIONA.PAULO EU JA TE DISSE UMA VEZ MAIS GOSTARIA DE DIZER OUTRA VEZ O ALQUIMISTA SALVOU A MINHA ADOLESCENCIA ME DEU ESPERANCA E A QUINTA MONTANHA ME CONSOLOU EM UM MOMENTO MUITO DIFICIL DA MINHA VIDA MUITO OBRIGADO PAULO:)

  4. THELMA says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viBrRrc3yKA
    The .. Musikverein in Vienna.
    LOVE,
    Thelma

  5. THELMA says:

    It seems that the ears of a musician are .. trained to catch the ‘Sounds of Music’ in a noisy environment! Whenever I watch a film the background music is the .. mystery that adds to beauty. The heavenly dimension..
    Regarding the pianist, I am sure he was so concentrated to his music that no noise could distract him.. A lapse of concentration and it brings … disaster, if he was playing ‘by heart’!
    Whenever I see a classical musician play in a non-proper place for his talent place, I feel sad! Because I ‘know’ that his/her dream is to play in … Musikverein in Vienna! The best at the top!!
    But musicians need to …live in the material world and ..eat! ;]
    LOVE,
    Thelma.

  6. nagualero says:

    thanks Paulo for this lovely story. it’s interesting that when we pay attention and still ourselves there is always a lot going on around us that goes unnoticed. and some of does things are very special.

    abraço

  7. karen says:

    He was being true to his Heaven-sent talent.

    True to his soul.
    True to God.

    Such inner beauty often does not have a value in our society.
    The beauty and truth of the soul and spirit.
    Because it demands of our societies that we FEEL.
    And FEELING is not what people want to do.

    Because that FEELING means that we have to stop being indifferent to our own suffering and the suffering of others.

    But, this pianist was saying with his playing,, ” I am forgotten, and unseen and unheard, but my soul is still alive – I am alive and this is my Song of Life – the Song God gave me, so I play.
    Amen.
    Karen xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  8. Heart says:

    I haven’t heard quality music at any shopping mall, and would be thrilled to hear Chopin at a place like this. In Dublin, sometimes there would be young musicians playing classical music on the streets. A couple of photos remind me of these moments. They gathered a diversity of listeners, more so than in typical concert halls. I like the idea that everybody can have access to high quality art. Spontaneous appreciation of everyday human beings can be more rewarding than academical critic from snobbish experts. Yes, it’s sad so many artists had to start performing in dirty bars before breaking through. I say the pianist in the shopping center is fine as long as he can play the piano, as other artists entering the American Idol are happy to have millions listening to their performancea. Still, music is music and ‘musac’ is not. Any artist knows the difference.

  9. Isobel says:

    Yes I’ve read that one?It’s beautiful.

  10. Irina Black says:

    Winged Beings.Those,who can follow DREAM.

  11. Jane Gaston says:

    I LOVE that a talented pianist was found in the middle of a busy shopping mall! It reminds me of August Rush as Kathleen remarked. I think it wonderful that you can find beautiful, soothing music in the middle of such chaos.

  12. Marie-Christine says:

    Music is
    Good for my soul,
    A movement,
    Attractive – like a magnet –
    A meditation,
    Something I can share with others,
    Getting in tune with my emotions and feeling my emotions,
    Can transport me to higher places,
    Creative,
    Higher vibrations,
    Right side of the brain – where the feminine energy is situated –
    One of the key that opens the doors to freedom,
    No strings attached,
    It is “music to my ears’

    Marie-Christine

    La musique est

    Un mouvement,
    Attirante- comme un aimant –
    Une meditation,
    Sans condition,
    Une maniere de contacter mes emotions et de les ressentir,
    Peut me transporter au dela de la dualite,
    Haute frequence,
    Cote droit du cerveau ou l’Energie Feminine est situee,
    Douce a mon oreille,
    Une clef qui ouvre les portes de la Liberte,
    Une expression de la vie,

    La musique fait partie de la langue Universelle et je l’ecoute.

    Marie-Christine

  13. Alexandra says:

    I feel a sort of sadness hearing that story. Maybe some do appreciate the classic music and a talent, but I am afraid the pianist deserved a better place.

  14. Kathleen says:

    Music does that to you – transports you to another place. I can fully understand being zoned out to everything except for the temporary expression of my soul in music.

    Some musicians have such passion though – they are truly blessed.

    Paulo, have you ever seen the movie August Rush? Its about this little boy who is a music prodigy and believes that he will contact his missing parents through his compositions.

    Kathleen xxoo